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Reflecting on the Strategy Process

Viewing the evolution of strategic management as ten "schools" of practice, Mintzberg and Lampel explore whether these perspectives represent fundamentally different processes of strategy making or different parts of the same process.

Unwilling to be constrained by either definition, the authors point out that some schools clearly are stages or aspects of the strategy formation process. Under certain circumstances, such as during start-up or under dynamic conditions when prediction seems impossible, the process may tilt toward the attributes of one school or another. Thus, identifiable stages and periods exist in making strategy -- not in any absolute sense, but as recognizable tendencies. Despite this, the inclination has been to favor the interpretation that the schools represent fundamentally different processes.

In cautioning against adopting a pseudoscientific theory of change in strategy formation, Mintzberg and Lampel note with optimism that recent approaches to strategy formation cut across the various schools of practice in eclectic ways. Some of the greatest failings of strategic management, they say, occur when managers take one point of view too seriously. Ideas and practices that originate from collaborative contacts between organizations, from competition and confrontation, from recasting of the old, and from the sheer creativity of managers are driving the evolution of strategic management today.

Mintzberg and Lampel advise scholars and consultants to get beyond the narrowness of the ten schools to learn how strategy formation -- which combines all ten schools and more -- really works. The goal is better practice, not neater theory.

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